Law and the Courts
Court records can give a fascinating window into people’s lives. An encounter with the legal system – be it for some minor altercation between neighbours or a criminal trial for a major crime – is stressful and sometimes deeply traumatic. The records that remain are a rich source for research. They contain a multitude of details about the lives of ordinary people and their contact with the legal system.
In Wellington we hold court records from the late 19th century until about 10 years before the present day. Please note information changes over time and is subject to continuous updating and amendment. We receive transfers from government agencies intermittently. Please contact us for further information.
This research guide lists Wellington holdings for the upper South and lower North Islands. It covers records not included in the Identity, Employmentand Welfareresearch guides and updates the Wellington information in Gavel and Quill 1997. Similar court records can be found in our three regional archives but these are not included here.
The listings in this guide are organised by place, cover civil and criminal cases heard before the Courts: a Magistrate’s Court, Court of Appeal, District or High Court. There may be cross-over between courts as cases originate in one and are concluded in another. Agency code searches in Archway give more information about the actual courts.
Note: Puke Ariki in New Plymouth holds a considerable number of New Plymouth Court records.
Some civil records are open, but most are restricted for 60 years. R denotes a restricted record; R60; R100 indicates the restriction period.
All criminal records under 100 years old are restricted. Some records may also be sealed or restricted for longer periods by a court order. All requests for permission to access restricted records should provide information about the reason for the research. The more information provided, the easier it is to consider the request.
Details about restrictions and who to contact for access permission are found in individual Archway entries. Access enquiries may need to be directed to the individual court registrar, the Ministry of Justice or the Department of Corrections.
Civil cases and plaints
Actions or civil proceedings involved legal action brought under civil statute (as opposed to criminal statute) usually by one citizen (plaintiff) against another citizen (defendant) for financial or other reasons.
Plaint Registers list civil cases, and files may also exist. File numbers are found in the registers which contain particulars of plaintiff, defendant, and the progress of the case. In a very few cases plaints are listed by surname on Archway.
Records are open access, except where civil records are included with restricted criminal/adoption records. Civil record books marked as restricted will need to be checked by our staff on a case-by-case basis to ensure they include no criminal/adoption records. The records below are open unless otherwise stated.
Plaint Book 1874-1896, 1970-1981 [ABYB 21698 W5445/155,158,157,297]
Civil Action Files (name search Archway) 1877-1978 R [ABYB 23220/79-126]
Plaint Book 1876-1970 [ABYB 21698/129-149]
Civil Record Book 1876-1914, 1976-1992 [ABYB 21697 W5445/74-95,231,249]
Civil Record Book 1881-1976 [ABYB 21697/53-128]
Plaint Book Index 1914-1920, 1929, 1952-1972, 1978, 1984-1990 [ABYB 21716 W5445/105-108,120]
Index to Plaint Book 1930-1968 [ABYB 21716/150-155]
Civil Plaint Book (indexed) 1889-1919 [ABPQ W4287/151-154]
Civil Record Book with index 1893-1913 [ABPQ W4287/113-124]
Civil Record Book 1889-1978 R60 [ABPQ W4287/112, 114,125-150]
Civil Judgement Summons Book 1893-1915, 1917-1989 [ABPQ W4287/166-169]
Civil Plaint Book 1911-1915, 1920-1982 R60 [ABPQ W4287/153,155-162]
Civil Plaints Book 1911-82 R60 [ABPQ W4287/153-162]
Civil Record of Judgement Summons Orders 1926-1953, 1982-1989 [ABPQ W4287/171-172]
- Havelock (includes Cullensville)
Civil Record Book 1889-1949 [ADCA 21558 W5394/183-193]
Kōpua (and Ormondville)
Civil Record Book 1881-1884 [ABJJ W4074/102]
- Levin (including Ōtaki, Foxton)
Civil Record Book 1952-1980 R60 [AAOI W3793/1-11]
Civil Record Book 1861-1992 [AAOF 21979 W5447/391-426]
Plaint Book 1868-1909, 1914-1975 [AAOF 22011 W5447/478-494,616]
Actions Register 1910-1985 [AAOF 22052 W5447/325-326]
Actions Case Files (1st sequence) 1919-1924 [AAOF 22075 W5447/278-284]
Actions Case Files (2nd sequence) 1925-1952 [AAOF 22076 W5447/285-292]
Action Case Files (3rd sequence) 1952-1985 R60 [AAOF 22077 W5447/293-324]
Sample of plaint case files (name search Archway) 1960-1967 R60 [ADDR 16289 JC-MS1/3-6]
Sample of plaint case files (name search Archway) 1968-1971 R60 [ADDR 16289 JC-MS W2225/1-3]
Plaint Book 1871-1977 [AAOW W3244/1-12, 25]
Plaint Book 1877-1940 [AAOW W3244/121-149]
Civil Record Book 1881-1980 [AAOW W3301/1-115]
Actions Book 1883-1977 [AAOW W3244/70-79]
Plaint Book Index 1919-1977 [AAOW W3244/13-28,307]
Civil Record Book 1940-1956 AAOW W3244/189-194]
Civil Actions – Nominal Index 1971-1974 [AAOW W3244/307]
- New Plymouth
- Ormondville (see also Kōpua & Waipawa)
Plaints 1890-1900, 1907 [AAOY W3298/726-729]
Actions Register 1904-1977 [AAOY 21225 W3298/1085-1100]
Actions Files 1904-1977 R60 [AAOY 21227 W3298/103-199]
Plaint Book 1975-1990 [AAXX 20834 W5462/69-84]
Civil Record Book 1976-1992 [AAXX 20847 W5462/20-43]
Actions Files 1977-1985 R60 [AAOY 21227 W5461/411-467]
Actions Register 1977-1986 [AAOY 21225 W5461/407, 758-759]
Civil Record Book 1977-1992 [AAXX 20852 W5462/44-63]
Plaint Indexes 1978-1981 [AAXX 20854 W5462/72-75]
- Stratford (includes Eltham)
- Waipawa and Ormondville
Action Registers 1872-1983 [AAOM 6043/1-61]
Plaint Book 1892-1949 [ADEE 16355 JC-W3/1-115]
Civil Record Book 1892-1949 [ADEE 16354 JC-W2/1-197]
Actions 1946-1979 Open till 1950 R 60 [AAOM W3265/35-691]
Civil Record Book 1949-1981 [AAAU W3682/1-29]
Actions 1970-1980 R 60 [AAOM 17886 W3550/1-49]
Actions 1979-1981 R 60 [AAOM W4080/91-171]
Actions 1981-1983 R 60 [AAOM W4364/45-160]
Civil Action Register 1983-1985 [AAOM 6043 W5643/302]
Civil Action files 1983-1985 R 60 [AAOM 17886 W5643/185-300]
Civil Proceedings Registers 1985-1989 [AAOM 6043 W5456/1163-1166]
Civil Proceedings Register 1989-1990 [AAOM W5716/329-331]
Civil Proceedings 1989 R 60 [AAOM 17886 W5716/1-328]
- Woodville – Palmerston North High Court
Agency is a Wellington court term used for early miscellaneous cases, and for cases referred by other Supreme Courts. Agency covered a wide range, including suits, appeals, chattels registration, land transfers and disputes. Case files are usually held. Most cases were later classified as Miscellaneous.
Miscellaneous was the term used to describe all such cases from other courts. Miscellaneous registers may contain material on companies winding up, aged and infirm persons, matrimonial property applications, changes of name by deed poll, criminal and civil appeals, domestic appeals, applications by solicitors to the bar and anything else that did not fit into other registers. Case files are usually held.
Records are open unless stated. Restrictions relate to criminal cases and adoption records. Restrictions are for 60 years from the last paper on the file, or for 100 years. Adoption records are restricted indefinitely.
Miscellaneous Applications Registers 1970-1978 [ABPQ W4287/96]
Miscellaneous Domestic Proceedings Register 1970-1976 [AAOY W3298/844]
Miscellaneous Applications 1894-1933 R [ABYB 22204/214]
Miscellaneous Applications Index 1949-1979 [ABIB W3865/63]
Miscellaneous Applications Record Book 1937-1970 (indexed) R [ABYB 22174 W5445/148]
Miscellaneous Applications Book 1965-1979 [AAON W4370/19]
Miscellaneous Applications and Sample Case Files 1974-1977 (search by name on Archway) R60 [AAON W3247/1-2]
Miscellaneous Applications 1976 (search by name on Archway) R60 [AAON W3044/1]
Miscellaneous Applications - samples 1978 (search by name on Archway)R60 [AAON W4382/1]
Miscellaneous Applications – samples 1979 (search by name on Archway)R60 [AAON W4383/1]
Miscellaneous Applications 1980 (search by name on Archway)R60 [AAON W3876/1]
Miscellaneous Court Files – sample 1981 (search by name on Archway) R60 [AAOI W3048/1]
Miscellaneous Registers 1901, 1926, 1947, 1965, 1978 [AAOO 18000 W5444/365-369]
Miscellaneous Indexes 1894-1895 [ABAJ 21957 W4079/330]
Miscellaneous Registers 1894-1979 [ABAJ 21893 W4079/325, 330]
Miscellaneous Applications Registers 1894-1908, 1957-1991 R [ADCA 21564 W5394/201-12]
Miscellaneous Files 1929-1979 R60 [ABAJ 21894 W4079/277-306]
Miscellaneous Applications Indexes 1957-1962, 1966-1977 R [ADCA 21566 W5394/213-215]
Miscellaneous Registers 1979-1994 [ABAJ 21893 W5395/217-218, 287]
Miscellaneous Files 1979-1994 R60 [ABAJ 21894 W5395/219-286, 444-447]
Miscellaneous Applications Indexes 1949-1975 [AAOY (AAXX) 20896 W3298/841]
Miscellaneous Applications Indexes 1976-1987 [AAXX 20896 W5462/106]
Miscellaneous Applications Book 1948-1977 [AAOY (AAXX) 20921 W3298/841]
Miscellaneous Applications Registers 1977-1978 [AAXX 20921 W5462/103-105]
Miscellaneous Registers 1904-1977 [AAOY 21217 W3298/1101-1112]
Miscellaneous Registers 1977-1992 [AAOY 21230 W5461/408-410,759-761]
Miscellaneous Files 1904-1977 R60 [AAOY 21224 W3298/200-269]
Miscellaneous Files 1977-1985 R60 [AAOY 21224 W5461/353-406]
Miscellaneous Files 1986-1992 R60 [AAOY 21228 W5461/468-694]
- Stratford (includes Eltham)
Civil Index to Miscellaneous Applications 1972-1978 [AEAR 21521 W5516/75]
Agency Registers 1875-1952 [AAOM 6044/1-21]
Agency Case Files 1875-1936 [AAAR 7585 W3558/76-173]
Miscellaneous Index (no date) R [ADEE 16361 JC-W9/1-2]
Magistrates Court Minute Books 1908-1955 [AAAU W3737/12-17]
Miscellaneous Registers 1936-1987 [AAOM 6045/1-25]
Miscellaneous Applications Registers 1971-1972 [AAAU 20012 W5558/440]
Miscellaneous Register 1987-1994 [AAOM 6045 W5456/1155-1157]
Miscellaneous Register 1994-1999 [AAOM 7578 W5507/732-733]
Miscellaneous Case Files 1972-1979 R60 [AAOM 7578 W3550/131-172]
Miscellaneous Case Files 1979-1981 R60 [AAOM 7578 W4049/135-215]
Miscellaneous Case Files 1981-1983 R60 [AAOM 7578 W4364/161-248]
Miscellaneous Case Files 1983-1987 R60 [AAOM 7578 W4978/1-236]
Miscellaneous Files 1975-1997 R60 [AAOM 7578 W5507/120-324]
We hold a wealth of summary information on criminal cases including: Returns of Prisoners Tried, Court Calendars, Criminal Record Books, Criminal Trial and Sentence Registers, and Crown Books. We also hold many criminal case files, mostly for more serious crimes.
Police Gazettes contain a wealth of useful information on criminal cases and should be used in conjunction with the criminal records described here. If you do not know which court the case was tried in you will need to use the Gazettes. This will enable you to find the correct return of Prisoners Tried to access available court information.
The Police Gazettes are available on Papers Past up until 1945 and we hold open access hard copies up to 1950 [AAZC 5803]. Beyond that, they are restricted.
All Criminal records under 100 years old are restricted. Some records may also be sealed or restricted for longer periods by a court order. All requests for permission to access restricted records should provide information about the reason for the research. The more information provided, the easier it is to consider the request. Requests for permission to access restricted criminal records should be directed to the court that transferred the records. For contact details, please see the Courts of NZ website.
Criminal Record Books
Criminal Record Books are court registers of cases heard and include such details as the name of the prosecutor and defendant, charge, plea, verdict and sentence/date of issue of warrant of imprisonment.
Some cases are accessed by indexes, either separate books or included in the registers themselves. Other volumes have no indexes and have to be searched. They are arranged by date of the case hearing. Some criminal record books are for cases heard in Children’s Courts. These can involve criminal charges against minors or charges brought against parents or guardians on the behalf of the children themselves.
Record of Criminal Cases 1876-1881 [ABYB 21694/216]
Criminal Record Book Index 1891-1977 [ABYB 21700 W5445/67-73, 81]
Criminal Record Book (indexed) 1903-1924 [ABYB 21694 W5445/18, 25-26, 38, 42-44, 46, 254]
Criminal Record Book 1881-1970 [ABYB 21694 W5445/1-2, 5-66, 116, 223, 225, 230, 248]
Children’s Criminal Record Book 1926-1970 [ABYB 22060 W5445/4, 12, 13, 58]
Record Book of Criminal Cases 1881-1912 [AAPP 27447 JC-Brightwater 1/4]
Criminal Record Book 1891-1951 [AAOF 22034 W5447/506-520]
Criminal Record Books 1914-1965 [ADDJ 16267 JC-CI1/5-6]
Criminal Record Book 1902-1932, 1935-1951 [AAOY W3298/981-986]
Criminal Record Book 1891-1970 [AAOF 22049 W5447/528-546]
Criminal Record Book 1881-1970 [AAON W4370/50-54]
Havelock (includes Cullensville)
Criminal Record Book 1881-1925 [ABYB 21708 W5445/24, 39, 40, 227]
Criminal Record Book 1898-1951 [ADCA 21600 W5394/353-358]
Criminal Record Book 1896-1971 [AAON W4370/3-9, 58]
- Lower Hutt
Criminal Record Book 1883-1929-1932 [ABIB W3865/3, 122]
Criminal Record Book 1940-1951 [AAOF 22027 W5447/547-548]
Criminal record Book 1881-1970 (some gaps) [ADCA 21567 W5394/216-290]
Criminal Record Book 1889-1932 [ABPQ W4287/36-38, 58]
- Palmerston North
Criminal Record Book 1961-1966 [ABYB 21701 W5445/63]
Criminal Record Book 1907-1931 [AAOY W3298/993]
Criminal Record Book 1895-1921 [ABJJ W4074/96]
Criminal Record Book 1918-1950 [AAOF 22325 W5447/549]
Criminal Record Book 1903-1929, 1940-1949 [AAOG 23433/1, 5-7, 34]
Criminal Record Book 1896-1908, 1918-1951 [AAOY W3298/976-980]
Trial (and Sentence) Registers
Prisoners tried or committed for sentence
Entries in these registers are chronological, with an alphabetical index in the front of each volume. They record the details of criminal trials and/or sentencing. They include the name of the prisoner, crime, place and date of committal, receipt of depositions. Some also include the plea and verdict, result of the hearing, date of the sentence and remarks of the solicitor.
Criminal case files can be located through the variety of registers listed in this guide. Some are also listed on Archway by the name of the person convicted. Criminal case files (including those listed as an alphabetical sequence in our earlier guide to court records Gavel and Quill) are not listed on Archway and can only be found by doing a restricted search on Archway Staff. Special access permission is required before such a search can be undertaken.
Trial (and Sentence) Files
Trial files consist of depositions, witness statements, evidence and the final verdict. They contain subsequent court papers such as correspondence regarding legal aid. Some trial files also contain information from the sentencing. Trial and sentencing information was usually separated into different files from 1940 onwards though there are some exceptions to this rule. Apart from Blenheim files (which are over 100 years old, unrestricted and searchable on Archway), files are accessed through Criminal Trial and Sentence Registers.
Trial Files (listed by surname) 1876-1910 [ABYB 23218/3-16]
Trial and Sentence Files 1910-1913, 1915-1930 [AAOF 22080 W5447/374-376]
Trial Files 1951-1991 [AAOW W5482/213-367]
- New Plymouth
- Palmerston North
Trial Files 1936-1937, 1966-1985 [AAOM W3265/2396, 2521-2729]
Trial Files 1932,’36-37,1941-43,1950-51,1957-66 [AAOM W3265/2381, 2407, 2411, 2442-2443, 2448, 2463-2520]
Trial Files 1984-1991 [AAOM 22171 W5643/1-184]
Criminal Sentence Files 1926-1985 [AAOM W3265/2396, 2731-2859]
These volumes summarise Supreme Court criminal proceedings. Information includes charge, plea, verdict, sentence, and a list of exhibits. Names given are: parties in the case, judge, legal counsel, court officers present, jury members and witnesses heard. Each stage of the hearing is listed, with a time. Volumes are often indexed.
Returns of prisoners tried
These returns include cases tried in both Magistrates’ and Supreme Courts but referred to a Supreme Court for sentencing. Arranged chronologically, the records are sometimes indexed. They give name, age, nationality, and religion (until 1942) of the accused, and include a summary of offences, court dates, verdict and sentence, if applicable, and the file number for the criminal case file which can contain a detailed record of the event.
Return of Prisoners Tried 1917-1920 [ACGS 16225 W1190/261, 264-265, 269]
Calendar of Prisoners for Trial 1 December 1909 [ABYB 23218/14 222-228]
Calendar of Prisoners for Trial 5 April 1910 [ABYB 23218/14 229-231]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1876-1958 [ABYB 22142 W5445/250-251]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1917, 1919-1920 [ACGS16225 J40 W1190/261,265,269]
Return of Prisoners Tried (indexed) 1960-1980 [ABYB 22142 W5445/3]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1917-1920 [ACGS16225 J40 W1190//261, 264-265, 267]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1917-1920 [ACGS16225 J40 W1190/261, 264-265, 269]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1919-1920 [ACGS16225 J40 W1190/262, 265, 269]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1918,1920 [ACGS16225 J40 W1190/264,269]
- New Plymouth
Return of Prisoners Tried 1904-1935 [AAOY 21240 W3298/842]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1917-1920 [ACGS16225 J40 W1190/262,264-265,269]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1935-1950 [AAOY W3298/1013]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1950-1979 [AAOY 21240 W5461/708]
Return of Prisoners Tried 1980-1982 [AAOY 21243 W5461/762]
Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal criminal case files for the whole of New Zealand are accessed through Criminal Case Registers (see below). The files are listed on Archway by date but not name. Access permission is needed from the Minister of Courts for our staff to search the registers and case files for a researcher.
These are files for criminal cases where an appeal went from the High Court/Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal. Appeals could be based on various grounds.
Criminal Case Registers 1945-1980 [ABIO 7241 W4047/416-420]
Criminal Case Registers 1980-1985 [ABIO 7241 W4585/121]
Criminal Case Registers 1987-1989 [ABIO 7241 W5110/401]
Criminal Case Files 1957-1980 [ABIO 7256 W4047/1-183, 421]
Criminal Case Files 1980, 1984-1989 [ABIO 7256 W5110/1-138, 376]
Criminal Case Files 1981 [ABIO 7256 W4196/1-20]
Criminal Case Files 1982-1983 [ABIO 7256 W4585/74-120]
Criminal Case Files 1984 [ABIO 7256/1-30]
Criminal Case Files 1985 [ABIO 7256 W4854/31-48]
Court calendars contain similar information to Returns of Prisoners Tried but are Prisons Branch records, included in their general correspondence (mainly from officers in charge of penal institutions to the Inspector of Prisons). Court Calendars are held only in Wellington and relate to prisons all over New Zealand for the period 1921-1937. It is necessary to search for alternative spellings: ‘Court Calendars’ and ‘Court Calenders’ to access all records.
Court Calendars 1921-1926 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/271, 274-276, 279, 283]
Court Calenders 1927-1936 [ACGS 16225 JW1190/286, 288-290, 292, 298, 310, 314]
Court Calendars 1921-1926 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/272, 274, 275, 277, 279, 284]
Court Calenders 1927-1936 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/286, 288-291, 293, 298, 310, 314]
Court Calendars 1921-1926 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/272, 274, 276, 277, 279, 284]
Court Calenders 1927-1936 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/286, 288-291, 293, 299, 310, 314]
Court Calendars 1921-1926 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/272, 274, 276, 277, 279, 284]
Court Calenders 1927-1936 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/286, 288, 291, 293, 299, 310, 311, 314]
- New Plymouth
- Palmerston North
Court Calendars1921-1926 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/272/274, 276, 277, 279, 284]
Court Calenders1928-1936 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/288, 290, 291, 293, 299, 311, 315]
Court Calendars 1921-1923 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/272, 274, 276]
Court Calendars 1924, 1925, 1926[ACGS 16225 J40/234, 279, 284]
Court Calenders 1928-1936 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/288, 290, 291, 293, 299, 311, 315]
Court Calendars 1921-1926 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/272, 275-277, 279, 284]
Court Calenders 1928-1936 [ACGS 16225 J40 W1190/288, 290, 292, 293, 299, 311, 315]
Police files, which may complement court files, are held for a number of high profile cases, such as murder, as well as lesser cases. Sometimes there was no court case, but the police file covers the investigations made.
These are Police Correspondence files. Some more prominent cases are individually listed on Archway, found by name (accused and/or victim), by place name or by year. The police officer involved may be listed. However there are many gaps between 1900-1940 because most records were destroyed. The records that exist are listed on Archway, otherwise researchers need to consult the Registers of Correspondence to see what files used to exist.
Indexes to Police Correspondence 1871-1951 R100 [ACIS 17636 P3 3/3-40/48]
Up to 1877 volumes contain entries listed alphabetically
From 1877 an annual single number system was used
Registers of Police Correspondence 1869-1951 R100 [ACIS 17633 P2/1-44]
1869-1877 & 1901-1951 inwards and outwards
1877-1901 inwards only
Files – Police Correspondence 1877-1972 R100 [ACIS 17627 P1]
Special branch and NZSIS files
Old police records
This series contains records that were known as Old Police Records (OPRs) in the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS). The OPRs index the reports of the New Zealand Police Special Branch, which existed from 1920 to 1956 to monitor organisations and persons of interest. They are organised by year and summarise the subject matter of the reports received. They list people considered “leftist” and those attending political meetings and rallies, as well as members of pacifist and union organisations. For the years 1932 to 1940 only year and order of receipt are noted with no other information except file references. The reports themselves are in Series 21007, however the Personal Files (P/F) referenced in the Sheets have not survived.
Special Branch Recording Sheets 1920-1956 
NZSIS central filing system
The files in this series are part of the central filing system used by the Headquarters of the NZSIS based in Wellington. Files transferred to us predominately contain former Police Special Branch documents dealing with the 1951 Waterfront Dispute, the Communist Party and other socialist groups, the Unemployed Workers’ Movement (including photographs), nationalists groups, Friends of the Soviet Union, various strikes, and activities of the Christian Pacifist Society. The OPRs Special Branch Recording Sheets can be used as an Index to the files, but the files themselves are listed on Archway.
NZSIS Central Filing System 1919-1992 [ADMO 21007]
Finger Print Branch/Criminal Registration Branch
These files deal with various matters: individual crimes; criminal histories of individuals; correspondence with overseas police organisations on cases; general correspondence (fingerprinting techniques etc); appeals made by convicted criminals. In some instances files in this series are cross-referenced to registered Police files.
Unregistered photographs/items criminal registration branch
This is an artificial series  created to control photographs and items found in accessions W3289, W4513 and W4758. It consists of loose photographs, framed portraits, fingerprints mounted on cards, negatives and lantern slides.
Photographs and Items (mostly undated) [AAXZ 6811 W4758/1-2 & W4513/1]
New Zealand fingerprints
Each prisoner form has a fingerprint number based on the Henry system of classification developed by Edward Henry, Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police Criminal Intelligence Department. By 1903 this system was being used by New Scotland Yard and worldwide.
The forms include a signature and impressions of all fingers and thumbs of the prisoner, with biographical and descriptive details, their crime/conviction, where gaoled and details of the officer taking the impressions.
Forms 1903-1911 [AAXZ 7885 W3289/1-3 & W4758/2]
Foreign fingerprint registration forms
Foreign fingerprint registration forms were sent to New Zealand Police from overseas Police departments and contain details about criminals, offences and impressions of their fingerprints. Each of the forms has the prefix FGN to indicate that the fingerprints are from a foreign source rather than generated by the New Zealand Police (see series 7885 above). They contain the same kind of information as the New Zealand ones.
Forms 1904-1954 [AAAJ 6812 W4513/1 & W3289/13-15]
Photographs of prisoners
These collections of photographs of prisoners often include basic life data: details of aliases, place of birth or date of arrival in New Zealand, height, weight, hair, eyes, occupation, marks and peculiarities, previous convictions and where gaoled.
Photographs of Prisoners 1873-1896, 1902-1907 [ACIS 17671 P27/1-4]
Wellington Prison – Photo Album of Inmates 1890-1893 [ABGU W3777 Box 21/ 124]
Habitual criminals registers
The registers provide a comprehensive central collection of information on habitual offenders from Police Gazettes and from the penal records of discharged prisoners. The information is not alphabetical but chronological, according to when people were declared habitual criminals. There are no indexes to these registers.
Unlike most other registers, each volume contains a wide range of dates (eg 1904-1968) meaning that access is unlikely to be granted to a researcher even if the case sought is over 100 years old. Access is likely to involve an archivist searching on behalf of the researcher and providing a copy of the relevant entry.
Habitual Criminal Registers 1865-1971 R100 [AAXZ 7352 W4758/1-6 & AAAJ 7352 W3287/31-33]
Police station records
Local Police Station Incident Books, or Diaries of Duties and Occurrences (search on Archway by place), may include brief references to crimes. Only a limited number of such records are held.
Last updated on 02 June 2021